Sapporo is the prefectural capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. It is an area the size of Scotland, with a sparsely distributed population, and Sapporo is its only major city. The highlight of its calendar is the internationally renowned snow festival in February, where everything from full-size replicas of temples to giant figures from Manga comics are built by dozens of teams from Japan and abroad. But Sapporo has plenty to offer the rest of the year as well, with Odori Park and the city''s botanical gardens pleasant by day, and the neon-lit drinking & dining area of Susukino buzzing by night. Sapporo beer has now become a staple pint on the London pub scene, and the main factory can be visited as well as local sake breweries. Since Hokkaido doesn't yet have the bullet train, we recommend picking up a rental car here and exploring the area - the scenic and historic port town of Otaru is an hour to the north, and the scenic lakeside area of Shiretoko is an hour south, before exploring the great natural panoramas of Hokkaido that lies to the east.